If there's one thing we can all agree on about the holidays, it’s that the music really brings it all together. While Christmas films are the hallmark of holiday entertainment, the combination of Christmas and musicals can really bring out the holiday spirit — and bring families closer together.
"Holiday Inn" (1942)
This holiday musical follows a performing trio, Jim (Bing Crosby), Ted (Fred Astaire), and Lila (Virginia Dale). When Lila confesses to falling in love with Ted, Jim leaves town and turns the inn into a holidays-only live entertainment venue. After booking Linda (Marjorie Reynolds) as the Inn’s entertainment, both Jim and Ted set their sights on her. Composer Irving Berlin wrote a dozen songs for the film, including the Christmas classic, “White Christmas.”
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town (1970)
This stop motion classic is one of the most beloved musicals. Narrated by the one and only Fred Astaire, the film — inspired by the hit song, “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” — tells the story about how Santa Claus and Christmas came to be. The film is also one of the earliest iterations to depict Santa Claus as a young man.
A Smoky Mountain Christmas (1986)
Dolly Parton stars in this made-for-television musical film about country singer Lorna Davis (Parton) and a mountain man (Lee Majors), who rescue seven runaway orphans from a sheriff and a witch (Anita Morris). While a soundtrack for this movie was never released, Parton did write a majority of the songs featured in the film.
"The Muppet Christmas Carol" (1992)
The Muppets tell their own version of the Charles Dickens classic, "A Christmas Carol," with Michael Caine as the stingy and grouchy Ebenezer Scrooge. Similar to the original tale, Scrooge receives visits from the spirits of Christmas past, present, and future, with various muppets — Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, and Sam the Eagle — appearing within the story.
"The Nightmare Before Christmas" (1993)
In one of the darker films on this list, Jack Skellington, Halloweentown’s pumpkin king, is becoming bored with the annual frightening holiday. When he stumbles upon Christmastown, the bright colors inspire Jack to give up on the scary holiday, and he plots to kidnap Santa Claus to assume the role himself. The film is inspired by a poem written by Tim Burton, the king of all things scary.
"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (2000)
Jim Carrey stars in this Christmas classic based on the popular Dr. Seuss book. The reclusive and anti-Christmas Grinch (Carrey) plots to disrupt the Christmas festivities for the citizens of Whoville. With his dog Max reluctantly by his side, the Grinch steals all things related to Christmas from them until he meets the naive and endearing Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen).
"The Polar Express" (2004)
This film is not only based on the beloved children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg, it also features America's favorite actor, Tom Hanks. Hanks portrays the conductor and the narrator, along with a variety of other voice roles in the film. "The Polar Express" tells the story of a young boy who doubts the existence of Santa Claus, while he embarks on a journey to the North Pole that shows him that the wonder of life stays with those who believe.
"Black Nativity" (2013)
Directed by Kasi Lemmons, the film follows Langston (Jacob Latimore), a Baltimore teen who was raised by a single mother (Jennifer Hudson), as he travels to New York City to spend Christmas with his estranged relatives and embarks on a journey of love and faith. The film is based on the play of the same name by Langston Hughes. The star-studded cast also includes Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Tyrese Gibson, and Mary J. Blige.
In this Netflix film, it's been decades since famed toymaker and inventor Jeronicus Jangle (Forest Whitaker) is betrayed by apprentice Gustafson (Keegan-Michael Key). The toymaker sees new hope and potential when his imaginative granddaughter (Madalen Mills) appears on his doorstep.
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